Minneapolis signing on for community solar

The deal will help the City save money on its energy use
while supporting clean, renewable energy

The City of Minneapolis has signed subscription agreements with four solar garden operators for 7.5 million kilowatt hours of solar energy for City government’s electricity use. This is about 7 percent of the City government’s annual electricity use. The City estimates it will save $28,000 in electricity costs in the first year of the contracts by getting more in bill credits than it pays in subscription costs. The City expects to start receiving the credits by June 2017. Community solar gardens are centrally located solar electricity systems that provide clean, renewable energy to the electric grid.

Led by the Metropolitan Council and the metro Clean Energy Resource Team, 31 participating metro area local governments coordinated the opportunity to procure solar garden subscriptions from a single bidding process. This coordination was intended to support solar energy in Minnesota. It was able to save money by boosting buying power, reducing administrative costs and hedging against future price volatility of electricity. This process was designed to simplify, standardize and make more transparent the community solar garden process for other Xcel Energy customers such as families and businesses who are considering subscribing to a community solar garden. This supports the City’s long-term goal of energy sustainability as laid out in the Minneapolis Climate Action Plan and the Clean Energy Partnership.

How it works

The private developers will finance, design, site, build, maintain and operate community solar garden installations.

With the City of Minneapolis subscription agreements, the solar garden operators will send about 7.5 million kilowatt hours of solar electricity annually to Xcel Energy at no cost. Xcel Energy provides electricity as usual to the customer (City of Minneapolis), which the customer pays Xcel Energy for – also as usual. Xcel Energy gives the customer a bill credit of about 12 cents for every kilowatt hour of electricity that the customer subscribes to from the solar garden operator. The customer also pays a subscription cost to the solar garden operators.

Published May 10, 2016